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Books for those in ministry organizations who desire to take their leadership, teams, governance, and ministry effectiveness to the next level.

19 Sep '12

Three transgressions of local church staff that hurt ministry effectiveness

I call them transgressions because they have spiritual impact and leave a great deal of spiritual opportunity on the table. These three transgressions include one transgression of omission and two of commission  Bear with me.

Transgression One: Lack of significant clarity in the local church as to what the church is about, where it is headed, what its non-negotiables are and what it is committed to achieving. 

I work with many churches who cannot define ministry clarity. It is a sin of omission that significantly impacts the spiritual effectiveness of the congregation. In the absence of maximum clarity every leader and team define their own clarity which is a recipe for confusion and competition. Eventually that lack of clarity creates silos, competing directions, and the proliferation of ministries which may or may not be effective. In the absence of clarity one does not know what is truly effective or whether or not we have achieved what we need to achieve. Lack of clarity is a sin of omission and it is endemic in the church.

Transgression Two: Lack of alignment around clarity. Church staff members can often be an independent lot who drive their own agendas and build their teams and ministries around their agendas. Don't get me wrong. It does not mean that they are not after good things. What I am saying is that many staff leaders are not committed to a common clarity and vision of the church but rather their own. This is a sin of commission.

No organization can maximize its impact unless its leaders are willing to get on the same page and work toward common goals. This means that we give up a certain amount of autonomy for the sake of a common strategic direction, mutual cooperation and a deep concern for the whole rather than a concern for our slice of the pie. Not committing ourselves to alignment with the whole is a sin of commission. It is a choice we make that hurts the whole and therefore our missional effectiveness. Thus it matters - a lot.

Transgression Three: Lack of accountability for results based on the missional clarity. Unless we can clearly show that our ministries are achieving results based on the ministry clarity of the church, we have no way of knowing whether we are being successful or not - which is why ministries are rarely ever cancelled but drift on and on whether they are delivering on the promise or not. 

Too many churches look like the Winchester House in San Jose, CA (Google it) with ministry built upon ministry with no common blueprint and no common direction. And, with each leader defending their piece of the turf and their section of the pie. It is why Patrick Lencioni's book, Silos, Politics and Turfwars has sold so many copies both in the ministry and secular world. In the ministry world it is a sad commentary on our lack of common vision, purpose and direction.

If you are on the staff of a church, I would encourage you to ask the question as to whether these three transgressions apply to your staff. If they do, put the issue on the table because none of us want to waste our lives or leave spiritual opportunity on the table.  I know that Jesus does not want us to leave opportunity on the table. 

If you need help in these areas, the book, Leading from the Sandbox can be a practical and valuable resource. Whatever you do, don't settle.